Parenting can be wonderful, but it can also be exhausting, especially in the winter, causing parental burnout. The colder weather and shorter days cause an increase in stress and fatigue. This can quickly lead to parental burnout if you’re not careful. But don’t worry; there are plenty of ways to avoid parenting burnout in the winter.
In this blog post, I am sharing eight different strategies that you can use to ensure that you stay healthy, happy, and energized during these colder months.
Whether it’s spending quality time with your children or finding ways to de-stress and relax, there are many things you can do to ward off potential burnout. Read on and find out how!
Tip #1 to avoid parenting burnout: unplug.
In our fast-paced, constantly connected world, it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and forget to take some time for ourselves. When we're constantly plugged in, we're easily distracted from life's everyday challenges, and that can make us shorter tempered and lead to parental burnout. That's why it's important to unplug from time to time and recharge with the kids.
Disconnecting from technology can help you relax by eliminating the distractions of the outside world. You can focus on the family and rejuvenate your spirit.
I like to take a mini-break. If I step outside of the house and enjoy a few deep breaths of outdoor air, it can really help. I also enjoy a lie down. That doesn't mean you need a full nap, but just a few minutes without any distractions to relax can be a needed respite in an otherwise busy day.
Whatever you do, I am sure you'll be amazed at how refreshed you'll feel after taking a break from the online world.
#2 Avoiding burnout in parenting: take time to enjoy outdoor activities
It's important to take time for you and the kids. One great way to do that is by enjoying some outdoor activities, and winter provides plenty of fun options like building snowmen, sledding, observing the beauty of individual snowflakes as they fall, or just rolling in the snow.
Not only is getting outside good for your physical health, but it can also be beneficial for your mental health. Being in nature has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, and can help you feel more relaxed and refreshed.
It doesn't hurt to come back in and enjoy a big cup of steaming hot chocolate with the kids. Just looking at their rosy cheeks and smiles is enough to melt any heart.
#3: Switch up the routine to avoid parent burnout.
In the winter, days can actually seem longer even though they are shorter. As you dig deep into your homeschool schedule or get caught up running the kids to all their afternoon clubs, it can take a toll. It can be difficult to avoid the inevitable parental burnout that will accompany these days.
One great way to give yourself a break is to switch up your daily routine. If you normally start your days with laundry after breakfast, try doing it later in the day or, gasp, even leaving it until tomorrow. When you put down the soldier on attitude and give yourself a moment to do things a little differently, you will notice how quickly you begin to feel relieved of burnout.
This does not imply that you let everything slide; rather, it is a change in your daily routine that allows you to shift from how things should go to just letting them flow naturally.
#4: Practicing good self-care helps parents avoid burnout.
You have less energy for a reason. In winter, your circadian rhythms are challenged as you get less daylight, making your body work harder. All that extra inner work that your body is doing can lead to real health consequences, which is why it's vital that you stay on top of your own self-care.
Here are four self-care tips that can help you avoid burnout this winter:
1. Get enough sleep: This one is crucial for all parents, but especially important in the winter when we tend to have less energy overall. Make sure you're getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and if possible, take a nap during the day when your kids are napping too. Making sure that you are getting the same amount of sleep is also important to maintaining a healthy routine.
Note: If you are having trouble sleeping, practising good sleep hygiene can help; this also applies to those little ones whose feet are pitter pattering around at all hours of the night.
2. Eat healthy: This is important all year, but it's especially easy to fall into unhealthy eating habits in the winter, such as indulging in too many comfort foods or skipping meals entirely. Make sure you're staying nourished with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins.
3. Exercise: It may be the last thing you feel like doing when it's freezing outside, but even a 20 minute walk around the block can make a big difference in how you're feeling mentally and physically. Exercising releases endorphins that will boost your mood and give you more energy.
4. Take breaks: When you're feeling overwhelmed or burned out, take a few minutes (or even an hour) for yourself to relax and rejuvenate. Take a hot bath, read your favorite book, or give yourself that overdue pedicure your feet need.
Whatever way you choose to show yourself a little TLC, you will notice how much better you feel afterwards. Practicing regular self-care is a must to remain a healthy, happy mom or dad.
#5: Take time to enjoy your kids on their level to avoid burnout.
It's important to take some time each day to connect with your kids on their level, whether that means playing a game, reading a book together, or just spending some quality time chatting.
This doesn't have to be a big production; even 10 minutes of one-on-one time can make a world of difference. If you are a parent of multiple kids like myself, you can appreciate how much these moments are needed to really get to know each child and make them feel important as individuals.
And it's not just for their sake—taking some time out of your daily chores will help you avoid burnout as well. So next time you're feeling frazzled, take a deep breath and spend some quality time with your little ones.
#6: Take time away to enjoy something for yourself to avoid parenting burnout.
After a long day of work and taking care of the kids, it’s important to have some time for yourself. Whether it’s reading a good book, going for a walk, or picking up where you left off in your knitting project, find something that you enjoy and that makes you feel relaxed.
Spending a few minutes each day on something that's all your own will give you a sense of individuality that we can lose sight of as parents. Those few moments a day when you let your hair down and realize you are still you will undoubtedly rejuvenate your spirit.
#7: Recognizing the signs of parenting burnout and addressing them
Parenting burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that can be caused by the demands of always being "on" as a parent. There are several warning signs of parenting burnout to be aware of.
Feeling overwhelmed or hopeless. While these are normal feelings to experience while parenting, it's important to address them. If you're feeling overwhelmed, it's likely you're trying to accomplish too much in too short a time span. It's normal to challenge yourself, but there are limitations to our abilities to get things done. Recognizing when you need to say "no, that's enough" is key to avoiding the hopeless feeling that can creep in with being overwhelmed.
Feeling disconnected from your children can happen when you're tired and worn down. Paying attention to your self-care is vital to maintaining your health and giving you a needed break from the kids. After you take care of yourself, you can spend time reconnecting with the kids.
Increased irritability or anger. Take a deep breath and realize that while you may be feeling angry and it may have a justifiable cause, like when the dog ran across your freshly mopped floor with his muddy feet, it's only one small moment in a long life. Taking control of your anger and irritability and finding a way to release it in a healthy way will be teaching your children a very valuable lifelong skill.
Difficulty concentrating. We've all been there. We are so overworked and have so much on our plates as parents that it's easy to get mentally distracted and sometimes even blank out completely. Catch yourself in those moments. Ask yourself, "Why is this happening? What can you do right now? Maybe it's something as simple as giving yourself a snack to get energized because, in your haste to take care of everyone else's needs, you forgot to feed yourself. Or perhaps you forgot that you didn't get enough sleep. Whatever the reason, see if you can refocus on the day and take things one step at a time.
Changes in eating or sleeping habits often happen when parents are experiencing burnout. Practicing good sleep hygiene, self-care, and being kind to yourself can help improve this situation. It is also important to note that some of the signs of parenting burnout are also signs of clinical depression. You should seek medical help if you've tried everything you can think of and nothing is working.
Withdrawing from activities you used to enjoy. Again, seeking advice from your family physician or pastor may help you overcome this particular issue.
When I'm starting to feel frustrated, I ask myself quietly, "What do I really need?" And I try to address that deeper need. In this way, I can avoid burning out before it's too late. And that's the key here you want to avoid it before it happens!
#8: It takes a village to avoid parenting burnout ask for help.
It takes a village to avoid parenting burnout; ask for help. As a parent, it is important to find a support system to help you avoid burnout. This could be family, friends, or even a professional support system. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Parenting is a challenging job, and it's okay to need some assistance from time to time.
I recognize that I need a break now and then. I tell my husband when I need time alone, and we make it a priority ahead of time. So, once he's finished with his work, he takes the kids, and I get a much-needed break in my day. Finding what works for you and your family will undoubtedly make a big difference so that you can give fully when needed as a parent.
Parenting burnout is a very real problem, and it can be even more intense during the winter months. Finding what works for you and letting go of expectations of how things should go can be life-changing. Don't be afraid to let the dishes stack up or to reach out for help when needed.
I hope this article has helped you get some good ideas for managing your winter months with the kids. I would love to hear how you cope with wintertime parenting!